“Breakfast Myths”Feb 17, 2019
For more than 100 years, health advocates have called breakfast “the most important meal of the day.” Many have also recommended that breakfast be the largest meal of the day, citing the old adage: Eat breakfast like a king, eat lunch like a prince, and eat dinner like a pauper. Mom may have been right in telling you that breakfast may be the most important meal of the day but there appear to be myths about calorie consumption and weight loss surrounding the subject. Over the past 50 years we have been bombarded with messages extolling the health benefits of various processed cereals and porridge oats. Around a third of people in developed countries regularly skip breakfast. We were told that breakfast helps our metabolism and that skipping it will make us much hungrier, so we’ll overeat and put on weight. These are not just old wives’ tales because they have been studied scientifically. The disadvantages of skipping breakfast have now been debunked by several randomized trials. No evidence supports the claim that skipping breakfast makes you gain weight or adversely reduces your resting metabolic rate. Furthermore, reasonable evidence now suggests that skipping breakfast can actually be a useful strategy to reduce weight.
“Deceptive and Fraudulent Health Claims”Feb 10, 2019
We are living in a pill-popping and dangerously over-medicated society. The current opioid crisis has led to thousands of unnecessary deaths, prompting a major class action lawsuit. False and fraudulent advertising fills television commercial and newspaper ads. In 2008, researchers at the Oregon Health and Science University reported in the New England Journal of Medicine, that nearly a third of antidepressant drug studies, which showed that the drugs do not work, are never published in the medical literature. Published studies which present unfavorable results have been recast (re-written) “to make medicines appear more effective than they really are.” Researchers conclude that, “Selective publication can lead doctors to make inappropriate prescribing decisions that may not be in the best interest of their patients and, thus, the public health.” Dietary supplements present an even worse case of false advertising, which amounts to blatant, sleazy dishonesty.
“Fried Food Controversy”Feb 03, 2019
The best Southern dishes seem to be fried. But, some scientific studies are cautioning against too much fried food. A 2010 study found too much fried fish may contribute to the high rate of stroke in America’s “stroke belt.” Experts found, “People living in the stroke belt – including residents of North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, Tennessee, Arkansas and Louisiana – were about 30 percent more likely to eat two or more servings of fried fish every week than those living in the rest of the country.” There is evidence that frying fish reduces their amount of omega-3 fatty acids and frying is also associated with an increase in the food’s fat and calorie content. A 2012 study, published in Annals of Neurology, has shown that older women who eat high amounts of the kind of fat found in fried foods and baked goods face a greater risk of stroke than women who eat lower fat diets. A 2019 study has shown that frequent consumption of fried foods, particularly fried chicken and fried fish/shellfish, was correlated with a higher risk of all cause and cardiovascular mortality in this study population. Total or individual consumption of fried food was not generally linked to cancer mortality. Total fried food consumption of at least one serving per day was associated with a modestly higher but not significant risk of cardiovascular mortality.
“Dementia Can Begin Early”Jan 27, 2019
A frightening thought is the loss of one’s memory. An estimated 5.2 million Americans have Alzheimer’s disease (AD) or some other form of dementia and those numbers will jump to 13.8 million by 2050. Until now, the general consensus was that the onset of cognitive decline, associated with dementia, did not begin until 60. A study published in the British Medical Journal, conducted by an Inserm research team, shows that our memory and capacity for reasoning and understanding start to decline at the age of 45. The study estimated 43.8 million cases of dementia worldwide in 2016, which represented an increase of 117% from the number of cases in 1990 (20.2 million). The highest age-standardized prevalence rates of dementia were reported in Turkey and Brazil, and the lowest were found in Nigeria and Ghana. Dementia was the fifth-leading cause of mortality worldwide in 2016. The age-standardized prevalence of dementia was 17% higher among women vs men in 2016, and the number of women who died of dementia was nearly double that of men. Tragically, nearly a half-million new Alzheimer’s cases will be diagnosed annually. The prevalence of dementia approximately doubled for every 5-year increase in age between 50 and 80 years. Increased life expectancy implies a significant rise in the number of elderly people. clinical studies demonstrate a correlation between the presence of amyloid plaques in the brain and the severity of cognitive decline. It would seem that these amyloid plaques are found in the brains of young adults.
“Daily Fiber Intake is Important”Jan 20, 2019
Fiber is an essential part of a healthful diet, and most Americans do not meet the recommended daily guidelines. Meeting the daily recommended intake of fiber can provide many health benefits. High-fiber foods are an essential part of a healthful weight loss diet. It is important to consume the right amount of fiber each day, spread throughout the day. A less common problem is when a person eats too much fiber too quickly, which can cause digestive problems. Fiber is the carbohydrate component of plant-based foods that is not digested or absorbed as it moves through the intestine. The current Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend the following approximate daily intake: men require about 34 grams (g) depending on their age and women require about 28 g depending on their age. Eating more than 70g per day is not advised and can have adverse effects. When increasing the amount of fiber in the diet, it is best to start slowly, increasing it gradually to allow the digestive system time to get used to it. According to a new review commissioned by the World Health Organization (WHO), eating more dietary fiber and whole grains protects against noncommunicable diseases (NCDs), such as coronary heart disease (CHD), stroke, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer. For every 15 g increase in daily consumption of whole grains, total deaths and the incidence of CHD, type 2 diabetes, and colorectal cancer decreased by 2% to 19%.
“Cancer Incidence Still Increasing”Jan 13, 2019
Cancer is expected to become the leading cause of mortality and the greatest barrier to increasing life expectancy in every country in the 21st century. The rapid worldwide growth in cancer incidence and mortality reflect aging and growth of the population; changes in the prevalence and distribution of the main risk factors for cancer, some of which are linked to socioeconomic development; and marked declines in mortality rates of stroke and coronary heart disease compared with cancer in many countries. Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) now cause most deaths worldwide. In 2018, an estimated 18.1 million new cases cancer were diagnosed globally, and 9.6 million died from the disease. One in 5 men and 1 in 6 women worldwide will develop cancer during their lifetime, and 1 in 8 men and 1 in 11 women will die from cancer. Cancer incidence and mortality are rapidly growing worldwide. Worldwide, the total number of people who are alive within 5 years of a cancer diagnosis (the 5-year prevalence) is estimated to be 43.8 million.
“Lifespan Slowing Increasing in America”Jan 06, 2019
Recently, researchers predicted that by 2040, people the world over will be living longer. In extreme cases, such as Syria and Nigeria, the researchers projected life expectancy to increase by as many as 10 years. But in the United States, they estimated that it will rise by only 1.1 year—putting the United States in the bottom five of all countries in terms of life expectancy growth by 2040. In 2016, the United States ranked 43rd among all nations’ life expectancies, with an average lifespan of 78.7 years. But in 2040, life expectancy in the United States is forecast to be only 79.8 years, falling to a rank of 64th among all nations—the biggest drop in rank among high-income countries. China ranked 68th in 2016, with an average life expectancy of 76.3 years. But if trends continue through 2040, China could rise to a rank of 39th, with an average life expectancy of 81.9 years—a 5.6-year increase in lifespan. So, what is holding us back? Researchers anticipate a coming shift in premature death from communicable to non-communicable diseases (NCDs), including diabetes, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), chronic kidney disease, and lung cancer and problems related to obesity. However, people can still learn to make changes to avoid these outcomes. For example, one bright spot for the United States was that it was one of only 20 countries that reduced the population’s risk of exposure to tobacco faster than 2% between 1990 and 2016. The future of the world’s health is not preordained. Experts say that the top three health drivers behind the future trajectory for early death will be metabolic factors—high blood pressure, high body mass index, and high blood sugar.
“Marijuana Pros and Cons as of 2019”Dec 30, 2018
Marijuana, or cannabis, was first used in Egypt 3,000 years ago and Britain’s Queen Victoria was also prescribed tincture of cannabis. Yet, the Food and Drug Administration has not deemed marijuana safe or effective in the treatment of any medical condition. But, this has not stopped the drive for its legalization. Twenty-nine states, plus the District of Columbia, have now made marijuana available for medical—and, in some states, recreational—purposes. Consequently, we have seen a sharp rise in marijuana use and this has prompted major public health concerns. So, what are the harms or health benefits of “pot.” Research has yielded results to suggest that marijuana may be of benefit in the treatment of some conditions, such as chronic pain, alcoholism and drug addiction, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and social anxiety, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and epilepsy. A large 2017 review found that marijuana, or products containing cannabinoids are effective at relieving chronic pain. Another 2017 review found that using marijuana may help people with alcohol or opioid dependencies to fight their addictions. But, other studies suggests that marijuana use actually drives increased risk for abusing, and becoming dependent on other substances. A review published in Clinical Psychology Review found some evidence supporting the use of marijuana to relieve depression and post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms.
“Cancer Linked to Infections”Dec 23, 2018
Almost 22% of cancer deaths in the developing world and 6% in industrialized countries are caused by chronic infections and most are known to be due to viruses. For example, hepatitis B or C virus are known to cause cancer of the liver, human papillomavirus (HPV) is linked to cervical cancer and helicobacter pylori bacteria increases the risk of stomach cancer. Even though the infections described here can raise a person’s risk of certain types of cancer, most people with these infections never develop cancer. The risk of developing cancer is also influenced by other factors. For example, infection with Helicobacter pylori (H pylori) bacteria might increase your risk of stomach cancer, but what you eat, whether or not you smoke, and other factors also affect your risk. The percentage of infection related cancer deaths is even higher in developing countries, but it is lower in the United States and other developed countries. This is partly because certain infections are more common in developing countries, and partly because some other risk factors for cancer, such as obesity, are more common in developed countries. Also, some infections weaken the immune system, making the body less able to fight off other cancer-causing infections. And some viruses, bacteria, and parasites also cause chronic inflammation, which may lead to cancer. Many of the infections that influence cancer risk can be passed from person to person, but cancer itself cannot.
“Coffee – Pros and Cons”Dec 16, 2018
Over half (55%) of the US population drinks coffee on a daily basis, at an average of about 2 cups per day. The U.S. spends $40 billion on coffee each year. But, is all this coffee affecting our health? Caffeine and other compounds in coffee have been shown to help you burn more calories, reduce cellular damage, aid in DNA repair, and provide anti-inflammatory effects. Coffee may even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics says caffeine has been linked to harmful effects on young people’s developing neurologic and cardiovascular systems. People are bewildered by confusing medical reports related to coffee. A Mayo Clinic study found that men who drank more than four 8 oz. cups of coffee had a 21% increase in all-cause mortality. Too much coffee can cause restlessness, wakefulness, and “the jitters.” In addition, too much coffee during pregnancy (more than 4 cups per day) has been linked with preterm births, low birth weights, and stillbirths. Coffee also raises the risk of bone fractures in women. A new study in the American Heart Association’s journal Circulation found that people who drank a moderate amount of coffee (fewer than five cups per day) experienced a lower risk of death from cardiovascular disease, neurological diseases, type 2 diabetes and suicide. Surprisingly, those reductions may not be due to the caffeine in those magic beans. Coffee drinkers experienced the same beneficial effects whether they sipped full strength or decaf. Drinking coffee raises cholesterol and it significantly contributes to increased levels of low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C), and triglycerides.